I used to build speakers when in college (30+ years ago)That's when you could buy 1 inch plywood and speakers better then those installed in most factory systems. Crossovers were nothing more then LC circuits. Well now the good audiophile speakers can't be duplicated for any amount of money or time by an hobbiest. First, even if you are a master carpenter you can't duplicate the resonence damping matrix construction and the anti-diffraction curved front sides of most good speakers. Too much engineering went into their designs (time alignment, FFT tone burst analysis etc). Second the speakers are harder to come buy. Some like Thiel now make all their own that are not for sale. Lastly the nth pole Butterworth etc crossovers are as much engineering as some old amplifiers. All of this is too difficult to duplicate even for a good engineer.
I have to concur with Keis. I rolled my own speakers 3 or 4 times, the first 30 years ago and the last (subwoofers) about 10 years ago. I have a full woodworking/metal shop, and a complete electronics shop, plus even better at work. I still have a hard time matching even the lowest grade finish and sound: I just don't have the jigs, etc., plus no test chamber, no good mikes, no experienced listener for 2nd opinions. If you wnat to make your own, do it because it's fun, a lot of learning, but it's hard to get really good sound. Try Speakerbuilder (AudioAmateur) for plans or books. Look at Madisound for kits or drivers. BTW, all homemade speakers sound teriffic to the builder. Good luck, Rich.
Hi, I've been an electronics hobbiest since I made my first spark as a kid! I've built many amplifiers over the years and within the last 15 years also taken great pleasure in designing and building several speaker systems. The very first ones were just built seat of the pants style, no formulas, computers, etc. with varying degrees of sucess. My most recent design was a dual cabinet set, Di Appolito tops sitting on seperate subs in a push-pull bandpass box, all designed with the aid of some downloaded freeware. Very pleasing sound and fun and inexspensive to build. I've sold or given away all of the speakers I've built over the years and I beleive they're all still in use! I now own a pair of VR-4's which are quite a piece of engineering, with a $3800 price tag of course! I'm the first to admit none of my own designs are as good as the VR4's, but speaker building is still a great hobby! Check out partsexpress.com for lots of good deals on components and as I said there are a number of freeware speaker design programs available, just do a search. Good luck, happy listening, Jim
I have built about twenty pairs of speakers over 30 years, from folded corner horns to hemi-spherical satellites to transmission line towers, using KEF, Peerless, Vifa, Altec-Lansing, Electrovoice, Radio Shack, Phillips brands of drivers. No, you cannot surpass the quality of what any decent speaker manufacturer can produce in their factory. Yes, you can make pretty good speakers at a fraction of the cost, if you enjoy woodworking and tinkering. You can spend a lot of time and a fair amount of money to gain a lot of satisfaction at having made something yourself. Try a standard kit from Madisound or North Creek before attempting your own design. The more you read before you start, the better off you'll be.
Mine will be better than you think.
Carl , You are truely multitallented , Builds speakers and reads minds . Just a pun , no offence intended .Care to elaborate ? There is also another thread in Tech Talk .FBI.
I have tried to build my own speakers as well using Dynaudio drivers. It took years and lots of tinkering. I was never satisfied. I thought I could make them sound even better each time I played with the cross-over and box. I spent more time playing with the design than listening to music. After a few years and much frustration I bought the North Creek Rythmn speakers and I am again listening to music not frustrating myself with speaker design. If you do not have an excellant understanding of electronics and are skilled in cabinet making and have software to design x-overs and lots of time and patience, do not do it! Buy a good designed kit!
I've only built a sub but sure learned lots from the experience. My next project is my fronts and I'm only looking to spend around 1600. If you take the approach that the saving from dyi going into the parts, I'm sure you can build as good a speaker as commerical. Very good drivers can be purchased from manufactures ( I heard vr 4's. Geez they don't make their own drivers). Crossovers? Parts are made by other people. Enclosure? Material again made by other parties. I am leaning towards building the BESL 2.4 using Seas Excel drivers. Not cheap but will be a very nice speaker. Again I'm looking to spend less than 2 grand. The story may change if your spending megabuck, but I my price range you can do just as well as a commerical company.
Didn't say I couldn't reverse engineer my VR4's and come close to their sound for less money but that would be cheating wouldn't it? (Besides you've got to buy a set and dismantle them to copy them) Seems to me I've seen a ad for a company that does just that advertising is stereophile in the last year or so. (Copies other company's designs) Anyone else seen the ad?
I'm not sure how getting the most for your money is cheating; guess it is a New England concept. I found a site off of the sub dyi that lists the drivers found in many quality speakers. Some of these drivers are included in kits. It takes a leap of faith to go from a pile of parts to speaker, but in my price range you can get a very good speaker.
My opinion is still if I was given the drivers and crossovers of a speaker I like, I'd still be hard pressed to duplicate the sound because of the cabinets. Its not just a woodworking exercise. The sound deadening, diffraction limiting, time alignment issues of the cabinet, not to mention the finish, are not trivial issues.
We know those issues aren't trivial (especially finish), but it is you who is trivializing the speaker building hobby, it seems to me. As far as specialized baffles go, the only commercial manufacturer that does that in a way that would be essentially impossible for an individual to do, is Revel (they're part of a multi billion dollar company, afterall). However, with a few other innovations, you don't need to have an 8 inch radius to achieve ideal diffraction limiting. And anyone can time align a baffle...
I have built several systems with great success. Currently my system consists of two NHT 12" drivers for the subwoofers, two Dynaudio 5" (mid) and two Dynaudio 1" silk dome drivers. I use a 3 way electronic cross-over at 100 Hz and 4000 Hz. I am extremely pleased. The system compares favourably to anything I have heard thus far including Watt Puppys, Vandersteens, B&W 801's etc. Cross-over design can drive you nuts but Leap designed cross-overs work well but I believe better sound comes from the the electronic cross-over route. Total cost was less than $1500 not including amps and electonic cross-over. If you must use passive cross-over then I suggest you find a kit or already published design. The "Black Dahlia" design by Dick Olsher (a superb speaker) when built is a good example. Zalytron has many kits designed by Joe D'Appolitto (sp?). The magazine Speaker Builder is a good place to start should you want to go this route. One caveat--home made speakers don't have any re-sale value and the snobs who spend $5000 and up per speaker will dismiss your efforts as pure idiocy but if you want champagne sound on a root beer budget, its the only way to go.
I have built speaker kits from Madisound and even though they are very neat when you first complete building them, they never seem to sound quite right. This is the impression I've had about every kit built speaker I have heard. I had Source Technologies out of Conneticut build my last speakers ( Dynaudio satellites in an MTM configuration using all esotec drivers ). They did a great job of getting the crossover right and also did a fine job constructing the cabinets - proper internal bracing, sand filled bottoms, and thick cherry veneer. However, they were 5 months late on completion and the owner/designer was a horrible communicator. Needless to say I will never have speakers built for me by Source or anyone else for that matter. It simply is too much hassle and nobody seems to get the crossovers designed to perform like the designers and engineers do on a professional level. With all of the fantasic sounding speakers available today at reasonable prices, one should be able to be choose a make and model that will perform well, look great, and be reliable enough to last for some time; also, factory built speakers have better resale value. ( By the way, I spent about $2600.00 on mine. )
"Thorty"...Sorry to hear that all that effort was wasted. Doesn't discourage me the least bit, though, and I'm not just being stubborn. Your experience is extremely contrary to what the vast majority of speaker hobbyists experience. I've known several, and even know one guy (has the highest tech CNC equipment) that manufacturers many speakers' cabinets for the highend industry (they mostly are NOT made "in house", BTW.) And kits such as the Gemeni have been tested personally by none other than Joseph D'Appolito, and the matching and crossover design are in fact on par with commercially produced speakers at the retail level......................I'm tired of guys like you trying to discourage speaker hobbyists! Don't you realize that there would be NO HIGHEND speaker manufacturers anywhere, if they were all satisfied with what was available before they got started?
Carl, I am sorry if I was sounding like a speaker building "basher". I have had some bad experiences and though I have learned by them, I would really consider building again if I could tackle the project with better knowledge and patience concerning speaker design. Yes, Joseph D'Appolito has made substancial contributions and insight in regards to speaker design and building which I acknowledge and respect. I think what I like the least about some homebuilt speakers I have heard ( incorperating crossovers designed by LEAP programs mainly ) is the lack of soundstage depth and integration with frequencies through the spectrum. My biggest gripe with my previous and most recent project was time ( too long ) and money ( too much ). When I began the prospect of speaker building, I thought I could actually save a bundle and still get the end product I desired. In the end, I have a set of great speakers which, though costly, have provided great listening satifaction and an elegant appearance.
And by that, you are meaning that you aren't listening to any of the projects you built? Anyway, I don't mean to be overly touchy either, and don't mean to diminish your time and effort. It is indeed a terribly time consuming endeavor.
I have built my own speakers. Started with kits, then moved on to my own designs. There is a lot of room in the hobby for everyone, no matter what your skill level. I think it's a great thing for someone to build their own speakers. You can get great(or poor) sound, but I think the biggest thing is that you have to do your homework first. I found that that the most important things I learned were: 1). A + B often does not equal C. 2). Don't think you are going to build a reference set of speakers the first(or second) time you try - there is a LOT to learn(from experience). 3). Use your ears, and go around and find out what type of sound YOU like. Many people are disappointed after hearing the best equipment (hopefully they didn't buy before listening). Not that the equipment is not good, it just doesn't suit their tastes. That said, my current speakers are not homemade, but they are the best speakers I've ever heard. I could never build them, no matter what kind of CNC equipment I had. They are not typical in shape, so hard to work with the manufacturer realized they could not produce them in volume - they now make more typical shapes. From the lessons I learned, I will upgrade them, as there is always room for that, no matter how great. Better materials are available to us every day. I'd be happy to offer advice. GOOD LUCK!
Re: Who has built their own speaker systems My design ideas are less extreme and perhaps more elegant, but I don't feel the need to be ridiculed by the jerkwads on here that don't know as much about speaker design as I do (which is most all of them). A few of my designs might be good enough to be "world beaters" one day, you never know. The point is, you started this thread as sort of a confessional to say "look what I did tens of years ago...gee, I'm glad I'm past that stage now"...There's entirely too much of that bull dung going on in this hobby already. I just don't look at speaker design that way, and don't feel the need to justify my speaker design philosophies to anyone in a public forum, because the "public" doesn't need to know anyhow. And as far as nano-decible measurements go, the human variable is never absent in gathering this "data", and certainly no one on this forum has their room dialed in enough to make use of such skilled-labor intensive testing/manufacturing. And most assuredly, anyone who can't even hear the full frequency range to begin with (anyone over age 40), has no business commenting on loudspeakers in the first place. I'm a speaker hobbyist and audiophile, and I refuse to apologize for my philosophy to anyone, especially if they think they've "seen it all, heard it all"! By Carl_eber on 07-04-00
It was very interesting reading the people's comments on DYI. I posted above my comments about my BESL dual 10 sub. Thorty40 I understand your frustration. I had a local custom cabinet maker build my sub case. Since he had to fit it in around other projects, It took a month to get it. Was it worth it? Yes. The build is as good( I think better) as anything in my price range. Most subs in my 1000 price range don't use anything more exotic than MDF; so the materials issue is pointless. I did have him use soild oak instead of veneer. Looks wonderful but really makes this thing heavy. My amp is a madisound 5230. It looks very similar to the amps in my 1k price range. I suspect they they are all made in Asia. I almost sprung for a North amp but the 500 price was too high for the project. I figure I can always upgrade later. I spent tons of time reading about sub design at the sub DYI page and on Madisound's board. I was going to purchase a pair of Totem Model ones for my basement but now have changed my mind and will purchase a pair of BESL 2.4s.
I have. OK, my opinion(and that's all it is): Simpler is better, quality of sound goes down as the crossover order goes up. So 1st order is best, but you need drivers that can operate with first order crossovers(not all are good for this). 2nd order would also be a good choice. Whatever you do, don't get much more complex than this. Also, along the lines of simple, if you have a good design to start with, you need none of the other frills(impedence flattening, notch filters, trap circuits, etc.). If you see plans for stuff like that, look elsewhere, the design maybe flawed from the start. My reference speakers (bought, not made) are WATT/Puppy clones, and there are only TWO crossover components on the sats, a cap and a coil. If you have a good design, that's all you need. Also, making the crossover more complex makes the speaker a MUCH more difficult load for the amp. So, keep this in mind if you like tubes or SET. In order of importance: crossover, box, drivers. You can also argue that the box is number 1, and I won't argue much. Make the box as sturdy as possible. If you're not good at this, have a cabinet maker do it for you. They'll make you a great box for floorstanders for around $350. There are thousands of plans out there from the speaker manufacturers that give you crossover values for their drivers, and they WORK. Often, these values are far away from those you see in the "tables". Throw the tables out, and use the manufacturer's values. Check out $5000 speakers. More often than not, they use tweeters that YOU will pay $25 for(not ScanSpeak Revelators or Dynaudio Esotars, but Vifa or Seas) and coils that you would pass over. Use wirewound resistors, GOOD polypropylene caps, and 12ga OFC coils, and you have better components than the big boys. Most of all, KNOW the kind of sound you like. Do this by listening to manufactured speakers. Example: if you can't stand bright speakers, you probably want soft dome tweeters, and not metal or inverted domes. Don't build speakers that you think are great on paper, only to be disappointed because they don't sound the way YOU like. If you do it right, you can make a $5000 pair of speakers for 25% of that. Another idea, buy your speakers used.